NextGen: Towards a Next Generation of Water Systems and Services for the Circular Economy

In the project NextGen, innovative technologies in the water sector are being investigated in 10 case studies including topics such as water reuse, nutrient recovery and energy production from sewage sludge. A special focus is put on the public acceptance of the technologies. Therefore, citizens and other stakeholders are engaged in the development and evaluation of the technologies via “Living Labs”, augmented reality applications and “Communities of Practice”.
The demand for water continues to grow – from water use in industrial processes and agriculture to increased urban demand. Therefore, the consortium of the project NextGen aims to develop innovative technological systems and circular economy related concepts in the water sector. NextGen is coordinated by the Dutch Water Cycle Research Institute KWR. It unites 30 partners out of 11 European countries from economy, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as research institutes. In 8 different countries, innovative technologies will be investigated in 10 case studies. Hereby, topics such as water reuse, nutrient recovery and energy production play a crucial role.
In Germany, a special focus is put on full-scale investigations in order to recover nutrients from wastewater and to enhance energy production from sewage sludge using a thermal-pressure hydrolysis. In this context, the KWB will collaborate closely with the Wastewater Association Braunschweig (AVB).
NextGen aims to energize and engage others to participate in the design and assessment of selected solutions. This includes co-designing new technologies through local Living Lab structures and taking a leadership role in collaboration platforms and events. Serious games will be used to envisage and test applications and augmented reality applications will be developed to increase the learning value and understanding of what the demonstrated solutions can achieve.
In Braunschweig, the nutrient valorization from wastewater will be promoted via a “Community of Practice” together with farmers, wastewater plant operators, local authorities and other participants in several workshops in order to establish its acceptance and to spread the experiences gained into the European context.
Innovative business models and governance conditions are in the focus of NextGen in order to contribute to the development of innovative solutions and services towards marketability. Furthermore, KWB evaluates different technologies being investigated in the project using life cycle assessments and risk analyses.

Synergies in circular economy: wastewater is a resource for producing fit-for-purpose water and also contains materials (e.g. nutrients) and energy which can be recovered.


Selected publications produced in the NextGen project are available here.

Project partners

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